US 20060224409 A1
A system and method for intelligent information gathering and analysis. Information is gathered from a plurality of open sources such as markets, investigations, government databases, internet intelligence, and public records. The gathered information is parsed and linked based on marketplace activities including threats. The parsed and linked information is sent to a database where queries can be applied to produce dossiers on entities. A client may add his own information to enrich a dossier and reports may be made based on the dossiers. Alerts may be generated when certain predefined conditions are met. These alerts can be used to drive various actions.
1. A system for acquiring information about an entity, the system comprising:
a server effective to gather first information about an entity from open sources;
a processor connected to the server, the processor effective to generate a dossier on the entity based on the first information from the open sources; and
a receiver connected to the server and processor, the receiver effective to receive second information about the entity from a client;
wherein the processor is effective to modify the dossier based on the second information from the client to produce a modified dossier.
2. The system as recited in
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14. The system as recited in
the receiver is effective to receive third information about the entity distinct from the first and second information; and
the processor is effective to modify the modified dossier based on the first, second, and third information.
15. The system as recited in
a second processor connected to the receiver and the server, the second processor effective to link pieces of the first and second information based on marketplace activity of the entity.
16. The system as recited in
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20. A system for acquiring information about an entity, the system comprising:
a server effective to gather information about an entity; and
a processor connected to the server, the processor effective to process the information and determine marketplace activity of the entity; wherein
the server is effective to receive additional information about the entity; and
the processor is effective to modify the dossier based on the additional information and the marketplace activity to produce a modified dossier.
21. The system as recited in
22. The system as recited in
23. The system as recited in
24. The system as recited in
25. A product produced by the process of:
gathering pieces of information about an entity;
linking the pieces of information based on a marketplace activity of the entity to produce linked information; and
generating an electronic product on the entity based on the linked information.
26. A method for processing information about an entity, the method comprising
gathering a plurality of pieces of information about an entity;
parsing the plurality of pieces of information to produce parsed information; and
linking at least some of the plurality of pieces of information based on marketplace activity of the entity.
27. A display comprising:
a representation of a client;
a representation of a customer;
a representation of a distribution channel used in moving a product from the client to the customer, the representation of the distribution channel including a link to at least one dossier on at least one entity in the distribution channel, the dossier including information about the entity gathered from open and closed sources.
28. The display as recited in
the information is first information;
the first information includes a plurality of pieces; and
the dossier includes second information produced by linking at least some of the pieces of the first information based on marketplace activity of the entity.
29. The display as recited in
the first information gathered from the closed sources includes a first entity identified by the client as being in the distribution channel; and
the second information includes a second entity related to the first entity and not identified by the client as being in the distribution channel.
This application claims priority to provisional application 60/632,854 filed Dec. 3, 2004, entitled “Method and System for Evidence and Intelligence Acquisition and Analysis”, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to information collection and analysis and, more particularly, relates to the collection of data from a plurality of distinct sources and linking that information in light of marketplace activity to acquire richer and more detailed information about an entity.
2. Description of the Related Art
Threats to the marketplace are continuously evolving, becoming more complex and more prevalent. Some statistics show that 7-9% of global trade, and 10% of the sales on the Internet, relate to counterfeit goods. Counterfeiting is a multi-dimensional problem. If the goods being sold are drugs, for example, an ingested counterfeit drug may result in serious health consequences. If the drug is diverted and sold through a different distribution channel than originally intended, the drug may end up in a different country, be sold for below or above market price, be sold in a country without conforming to necessary regulations, and the company manufacturing the drug may lose significant profits and/or be charged with misleading the public in its sales. It is desirable to acquire as much information about the sale of products and services so as to limit these exposures.
In recent years, Internet retailers of counterfeit and diverted goods have increasingly leveraged the Internet to directly market infringing products to global consumers. Internet retailers are combining websites, advertising portals, affiliate programs, banner advertisements, search engine placements, and unsolicited bulk email to reach a far broader and wealthier consumer demographic than was historically accessible to black and gray markets.
The act of acquiring intelligence and evidence on particular activities is necessary in many endeavors. In the legal arena, acquiring solid, highly reliable evidence is crucial in advancing a party's theory in a case. If the evidence acquired does not have a certain minimum level of veracity, it may not even be admissible in courts of law. For businesses, acquiring intelligence about competitors is beneficial in determining marketing strategies. Businesses may even desire to learn more information about how their own businesses are operating. Complex businesses using many different supply chains and/or distribution channels, may desire to learn more about the entities in channels they are using to ensure that products are not given to distributors who have a history of diverting or counterfeiting goods.
Some prior art intelligence and evidence acquisition methods gather information about an entity from open sources such as government records or court filings. Those records include basic information about an entity such as an address, company name, etc. If two entities share some of the same information (e.g. they share the same address) some prior art methods are capable of even linking these two entities and indicating that they are related in some manner. Other prior art systems receive limited data about an entity from a client but do not supplement such data with information available to the public from open sources. For example, in response to a query relating to Product X, these prior art systems may indicate that there are 10,000 sellers of product X but will not link that information with openly available sources of information.
Such prior art systems are also generally static in that they typically represent a snapshot in time of information gathered about an entity from limited sources. These systems do not evolve to provide an updated view of an entity as more information is acquired about the entity. Further, there is no means in the prior art systems for intelligent linking of acquired information.
Thus, there is a need in the art for a system and method for acquiring more complete information about an entity, and intelligently linking that information.
One embodiment of the invention is a system for acquiring information about an entity. The system comprises a server effective to gather first information about an entity from open sources and a processor connected to the server, the processor effective to generate a dossier on the entity based on the first information from the open sources. The system further comprises a receiver connected to the server and processor, the receiver effective to receive second information about the entity from a client; wherein the processor is effective to modify the dossier based on the second information from the client to produce a modified dossier.
Another embodiment of the invention is a system for acquiring information about an entity. The system comprises a server effective to gather information about an entity; and a processor connected to the server, the processor effective to process the information and determine marketplace activity of the entity; wherein the server is effective to receive additional information about the entity; and the processor is effective to modify the dossier based on the additional information and the marketplace activity to produce a modified dossier.
Still another embodiment of the invention is a product produced by the process of: gathering pieces of information about an entity; linking the pieces of information based on a marketplace activity of the entity to produce linked information; and generating an electronic product on the entity based on the linked information.
Yet another embodiment of the invention is a method for processing information about an entity, the method comprising gathering a plurality of pieces of information about an entity; parsing the plurality of pieces of information to produce parsed information; and linking at least some of the plurality of pieces of information based on marketplace activity of the entity.
Still yet another embodiment of the invention is a display comprising: a representation of a client and a representation of a customer. The display further comprises a representation of a distribution channel used in moving a product from the client to the customer, the representation of the distribution channel including a link to at least one dossier on at least one entity in the distribution channel, the dossier including information about the entity gathered from open and closed sources.
For each of these sources, a snapshot of the original acquired data may be maintained in an evidence database 63 before being sent to a linking and parsing server 66 (discussed below). In this way, reliable evidence may be stored and later used if needed. In addition to the open sources mentioned above, a client using system 50 may request that certain sources of information be accessed. For example, the client may desire that a certain trade board be analyzed or spidered for product ABC. Analyst 64 may be used to review trade board sites that are not amenable to algorithmic spiders.
For example, if a customer utilizing system 50 desired to know more information about drug XYZ, analyst 64 would consult open sources 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 to acquire intelligence regarding drug XYZ. Entities who distribute, sell, import, or export drug XYZ or list drug XYZ in catalogues or their financials will be identified through market sources 52. Ongoing investigations such as private investigations or EDDI files relating to entities dealing with drug XYZ are identified from investigations sources 54. Government information about drug XYZ including pharmacy licensing is acquired from government sources 56. Trade forums, chat rooms, WHOIS databases etc. are consulted for drug XYZ as the internet intelligence sources 58. Public records 60 are also queried regarding drug XYZ.
All of the open source information gathered by analyst 64 is then fed to a parsing and linking server 66. A link may be created between evidence stored in evidence database 63 and the evidence parsed by parsing server 66. Parsing and linking server 66, along with analyst 64, parses the gathered information so that it may all be fed into a single platform database 68. Parsing and linking server 66 combines unstructured information, such as web pages and emails, with structured information, such as phone numbers, names, addresses, etc. into an organized database. Although only a single parsing and linking server 66 is shown, as large volumes of unstructured information may be received, a plurality of parsing and linking servers may be employed and implemented in a parallel. A centralized parsing and linking server may be used as a hub to coordinate parsing and linking activities and act as a central point for the distribution of raw intelligence to multiple disparate spoke parsing and linking servers. The spoke parsing and linking servers may operate independent of one another. Such an arrangement may provide increased scalability.
For example, if an electronic document is acquired by terminal 62, parsing and linking server 66 may crawl through the document searching for phone numbers, email addresses, domain names, URLs in a message body, root domains of URLS in the message body, root domains in the message header, DNS host names and root names, record creation date, record last updated date, registrant name, registrant address, registrant email, registrant phone number, types of registrants, etc. Trace routes, where a request from server A ends up going to a server B, may be tracked by analyst 64 and the information fed to server 66 so that any intermediate internet protocol addresses and domains may be tracked and captured. For trade boards, information such as the date of an offer, an identification of the trade board, a URL of the offer, a type of listing, the text of the offer, the company listed in the offer, the company location listed, any websites listed in the offer, email addresses, persons listed in the offer page, mail addresses, and phone numbers may all be parsed by parsing server 66.
Parsing and linking server 66 and analyst 64 also link pieces of the received information together based on relationships among the received information so that more intelligent analysis of the gathered information is available. For example if information is acquired about a particular web address, parsing and linking server 66, in combination with analyst 64, may access a WHOIS lookup and find out more information about the address. If an email trap account receives an unsolicited email regarding a drug XYZ, analyst 64 and parsing and linking server 66 may look for domains relating to the email. Thereafter, a search may be performed for other domains run by the same individual, where those domains are registered, etc. All of this information is linked together and stored in database 68.
Unlike the prior art, the linking performed by parsing and linking server 66 in conjunction with analyst 64 may be done with a focus on marketplace activity including a threat by a malefactor. Examples of marketplace activity or threats by malefactors include counterfeiting, domain name hijacking, fraud, product diversion, hacking, phishing, virus-spreading, identity theft, digital piracy, sending unsolicited email, product hoarding, distribution contract violations, channel fraud, etc. Prior art techniques simply gathered together limited information from sources and linked the information without any particular focus except perhaps to gather information about an individual or business. Linking in system 50 is more intelligent. For example, by comparing received information relating to offers for sale against a taxonomy of countries and geographic regions, and linking that information with parsed words like “buy”, “sell” and “offer”, system 50 can classify perceived marketplace activities. As a consequence, system 50 may determine, for example, whom an entity sells products to, ships products to, etc. In this way, an entity may be associated with marketplace activities which a potential to threaten a manufacturer's value chain.
Some examples of relationships among received data include a shared advertising channel—such as a mail house or advertising portal that works for multiple retailers; a shared product supplier and distributor—the party that physically obtains and ships products ordered via a given retail website; and a shared hosting company.
Once the open source data is parsed, linked and stored in platform database 68, a query server 72 may be used to issue queries on platform database 68 for particular entities. It should be noted that information stored in database 68 may be continuously analyzed and linked together. As a large amount of information may be gathered on each entity, query server 72 can package this information from platform database 68 and produce a file or dossier 70 for a particular entity. Three dossiers 70 a, 70 b and 70 c are shown in
At step S24, pieces of the gathered information, either before or after being stored in database 68, are linked based on marketplace activity. At step S26, searching is enabled on the database. At step S28, a dossier is produced based on the search. Steps S20-S28 may be repeatedly performed and at step S30, the dossier may be updated based on marketplace activity.
Client information 94 may include, for example, information regarding where products were shipped by client 90, any returns or chargebacks received for the products, a list of customers of client 90, wholesaler and/or distributor data, a list of known incidents and/or complaints regarding client 90 and its products or services, and any other track or trace information.
Alternatively, other sources of closed source information 96 may be forwarded to receiver 92 and added to a closed source database 98 accessible to query server 72. For example, a law firm may put information produced pursuant to discovery requests into closed source database 98 or information from computers seized by authorities may be added to closed source database 98. Depending on the nature of the information, closed source database 98, may also be kept separate from client database 88 and platform database 68. Alternatively, client 90 may chose to purchase a dossier 70 c and move that information in dossier 70 c to the client's side of system 80 so that additional information from client 90 may be added to dossier 70 c so as to comply with confidentiality issues such as legal privilege.
Query server 72, in conjunction with analyst 64, may now issue queries on platform database 68, client database 88, closed source database 98 and other database 89 to generate even richer dossiers 70 on entities. For example, a dossier 70 a created by information from platform database 68 populated from open sources, may be supplemented with information from client 90 to produce an updated dossier 70 a that includes both open and closed sources of information. Further, once dossier 70 a is updated with information from client 90, other pieces of information from open sources in platform database 68 may now become more relevant and may be used to further supplement information in dossier 70 a.
Dossiers 70 may each include a plurality of different types of information about a particular entity. An example of a dossier 70 is shown in
Any of the intelligence fields 112 may be accessed to learn more information about company 100. A listing 116 of the sources of the intelligence used to generate the dossier for company 100 is shown at the bottom of the figure along with a link enabling the purchase of complete briefs corresponding to the acquired intelligence. As is evident, the dossiers themselves may be linked together—such as a dossier on an individual and a company may be linked. Similarly, if an analyst decides that two or more dossiers relate to the same entity, the analyst may choose to merge dossiers.
Dossier 70 shown in
Clicking on a “Link It!” tab allows a user to generate and view a map of the relationships between dossier 70 and other dossiers based on related structured information. Upon selection of the “Link It!” tab, a user is asked upon which original piece of information it would like to link against and how many relationship levels it would like to link out from this original piece of information. For example, referring to
Other information about company 100 may also be included in dossier 70. For example, recent market intelligence about company 100 such as who company 100 ships to, sells to, what marketing language it uses, and countries where it receives its products from—may be stored. Product and service intelligence may be stored in dossier 70 such as products being offered for sale by company 100, and how system 80 knows about the offer (such as trade boards, internet stores, catalogues, fax blasts, auctions, forums, etc.). Threat intelligence about company 100 may be stored—such as whether company 100 has recently been a party in a legal proceeding—criminal or civil, OASIS information, FDA information, parallel trade licenses, etc.
Referring again to
Client 90 may request that reports 71 be generated based on dossiers 70 as desired or may set up a continuous request to receive reports 71 relating to a particular query every time new information relating to the query is gathered. For example, every time information about drug XYZ is updated in one of the dossiers 70, client 90 may be notified. Or any time product ABC appears on a trade board, information in platform database 68 and the corresponding dossier 70 is updated and client 90 is notified. Client 90 may also choose to purchase a snapshot dossier 70 showing information about an entity up to a particular point in time. As shown in
Dossiers 70 may be generated by analyst 64 or may be requested to be generated by client 90. For example, client 90 may request that a dossier of drug XYZ be generated. Further, client 90 may set forth rules for when a particular dossier should be updated. For example, for a dossier on drug XYZ, client 90 may set up a rule that whenever individual K is found to be related to drug XYZ, the corresponding dossier on drug XYZ, or on individual K, should be updated.
Client 90 may use dossiers 70 to validate the authenticity of sources and contacts. Trends and patterns in the marketplace may be determined that may be actionable to client 90—such as fraud, theft, conversion, trademark infringement, etc. Client 90 may simply be interested in dealing with a new entity and may use dossiers 70 to perform due diligence on this new entity.
Dossiers 70 may be used to discover relationships among entities. For example a query may be performed for all entities trading in drug XYZ. Such a query may yield 10 dossiers. Then, on those 10 dossiers, a query may be performed to see who appears to be a counterfeiter or diverter. This may be accomplished by examining market data sections of received information for commercial activity summaries. If, for example, a company is offering products below wholesale cost, the company is likely involved in illicit activity. Similarly, if the company is offering products in geographies distinct from where they list their addresses, there may be a presumption that the company is diverting and/or counterfeiting a product.
That search may yield 4 dossiers. The search may be narrowed by how frequently counterfeiting is performed. This may be determined by the value of offers collected by system 50. This last search may yield only two dossiers. These remaining two dossiers represent the most relevant entities counterfeiting drug XYZ and the most important targets to pursue. Prior art techniques could only list a number of individuals performing counterfeiting, but could not provide an indication of the most relevant entities performing the counterfeiting System 80 enables a user to determine the most relevant entities, yields an evolving view of these entities, and is more automated than systems of the prior art.
Thus, by incorporating systems and/or methods in accordance with the invention, more comprehensive and richer intelligence gathering and analysis is achieved.
While the invention has been described and illustrated in connection with preferred embodiments, many variations and modifications as will be evident to those skilled in this art may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, and the invention is thus not to be limited to the precise details of methodology or construction set forth above as such variations and modification are intended to be included within the scope of the invention.